Japanese Cuisine Made Easy



A couple of candid shots above (courtesy of Miki) provide insight into the tempura process (lots and lots of oil). The recipes following will allow you to create a few authentic Japanese side dishes in a manner of minutes. Don't think of these vegetables as married to a theme or concept meal though; all would fit in nicely alongside American and other world cuisines.

SAYA-INGEN (Green Beans) IN WALNUT SAUCE

Quite sweet, a small artfully arranged mound of these crispy green beans will add punch to any entree. Try placing a few on a plate alongside your favorite sandwich.

1 2/3 cups green beans, parboiled for 2 minutes and cut into 2-inch pieces / 2 cups walnuts / 1 T. sugar / 1 T. soy sauce / 1 T. sake / 2 T. water
  1. After boiling, drain beans and leave to dry well.
  2. Place all remaining ingredients in a blender and process until (relatively) smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste and combine with green beans.
  3. Serve within an hour at room temperature or slightly chilled.

STEAMED CAULIFLOWER WITH WHITE SESAME DRESSING

The subtle tone-on-tone color scheme of this dish makes it particularly elegant when served in small portions on petite white dishes (a plain saucer works well).

1/2 half head of cauliflower, trimmed in medium size pieces and steamed until just tender (can also boil) / 4 T. white sesame seeds / 1-2 T. soy sauce / 1 T. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine, in all large supermarkets) / 2-3 T. water

  1. Drain cauliflower and let cool completely.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a mortar and grind until smooth with pestle. Alternately use a blender, but the texture will not be quite as enticing.
  3. Combine with cauliflower and serve at room temperature. Especially nice alongside broiled or baked fish.

SAN BAI ZU (Carrots in Sweet Vinegar)

Traditionally served with deep-fried foods to cut the oiliness with a sharp and sweet bite. Delicious with fried chicken!

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks / 1 t. kosher salt / 5 T. rice vinegar / 2 T. soy sauce / 2 T. honey / 1 T. sake / cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Toss the carrots with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and drain well.
  2. In another bowl mix the remaining ingredients very well.
  3. Add the carrots to the marinade and leave at room temperature for at least 3 hours.
  4. May be served cold but always in small portions, as a condiment.

NIKKOROGASHI (BABY NEW POTATOES COOKED IN STOCK)

This is a Cafe Drake variation on a centuries-old recipe, which substitutes chicken stock for the fish stock or dashi broth not so likely to be sitting in your refrigerator.

1 T. toasted sesame oil / 1 small onion, thinly sliced / 2 lbs. baby new potatoes, unpeeled (search for the smallest you can find) / 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock / 3 T. soy sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stir very gently until they are all coated lightly with oil.
  2. Pour in the stock and soy sauce, cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook for 15 minutes, gently stirring every 5 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and cook 5 more minutes are until liquid is almost absorbed.
  4. Transfer potatoes and onions to serving bowl and pour remaining liquid over all.

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